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Lightbourn: Govt Refusing To Answer Questions About National Issues

Richard Lightbourn

Richard Lightbourn

By NICO SCAVELLA

Tribune Staff Reporter

nscavella@tribunemedia.net

MONTAGU MP Richard Lightbourn has expressed his “total frustration” in the lack of response by the Christie administration to over 200 questions about national issues read and tabled in the House of Assembly by the Official Opposition dating back to 2012.

Mr Lightbourn, in an interview with The Tribune on Friday, accused the government of choosing to “ignore” the questions posed by various members of the Official Opposition, charging that the Christie administration “just seems to be prepared to share whatever they feel is of benefit to them and then they hush up”.

He said that while he has no “real hope or belief” that the government will respond to any the questions the Opposition has raised, they “need to be out there so that the country has got to understand that these people just seem to feel that they can do whatever they wish without regard for proper parliamentary etiquette and business etiquette”.

The rebel Free National Movement (FNM) MP referred to a list of 23 questions, collectively addressed to Prime Minister Perry Christie, Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis, and Agriculture Minister V Alfred Gray, over a number of issues, including the exporting of Conch and Sea Cucumbers, the controversy surrounding hotelier Philip Ruffin’s unpaid casino taxes and the controversy surrounding the $650m letter of intent with Stellar Waste-to-Energy. He said those questions were tabled in the House of Assembly, and thus should be on the agenda for Monday’s sitting of Parliament.

However, he said he was not hopeful that the questions would be answered or even addressed, referring to a myriad questions asked by the Opposition about various national issues since the start of this Parliamentary term.

“If you look on the agenda, every time we have a new sitting they have a new agenda which lists new Bills that have been read, first second time, etc,” he said. “So they have all the Bills listed, then they list the questions. Well, the questions go back to 2012. I think there’s over 200 questions on that thing which have not been addressed.

“Every once in a while you come forward and they would answer a couple. From different members from the FNM. Neko Grant did a lot, (Dr Minnis) did a bunch, Loretta. Members have tabled questions, they just ignore them.

“I don’t frankly have any real hope or belief that they will respond to any of them, but I just think they need to be out there that the country has got to understand that these people just seem to feel that they can do whatever they wish without regard for proper parliamentary etiquette and business etiquette. No wonder this country is in the state it’s in today.

“There’s a total frustration but it’s just like everything else. This government just seems to be prepared to share whatever they feel is of benefit to them and then they hush up. They need to be open with the public.”

In one of his questions to Mr Christie, Mr Lightbourn seeks to have the Prime Minister clarify whether or not “all casino taxes owed by any corporate entity controlled by Mr Ruffin have been paid to the Government”. Last year, Mr Ruffin, in a statement issued by his Bahamian attorneys, Davis & Co, vehemently denied that he owed any outstanding casino taxes to the Public Treasury.

However, that contradicted the findings of the Government’s own auditor and Ministry of Finance officials, with the former’s 2013-2014 fiscal year report stating that the former Crystal Palace Casino owner still owes $7.277 million. Their findings were also backed by Obie Wilchcombe, Minister of Tourism, who has responsibility for gaming.

“The story on the street is that he did pay it, that he paid it to Davis & Co,” Mr Lightbourn told The Tribune. “Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. But certainly according to the Auditor General there’s been no evidence forthcoming that it was paid.”

Turning his attention to Mr Gray, Mr Lightbourn called on the MICAL MP to inform Parliament “to whom licences were issued authorising the export of Conch from the Bahamas for each of the years 2012 to 2016 inclusive” as well as “the terms upon which such licenses were issued”.

Mr Lightbourn told The Tribune that such information is crucial because the the local Conch population is being “depleted”.

“When you were growing up you could go right here in Nassau harbour and get a pile of Conch,” Mr Lightbourn said. “But now you got to go down south of Acklins to get them. Why do you think that is? Because people deplete them. And they’re getting smaller and smaller (in numbers). But we’re going to sit here and in the next five years, 10 years, suddenly your Conch costs $20 a Conch, and you’re going to wonder why. People are going to scream and carry on.

“You go in every restaurant that sells local stuff, Conch is the main number,” Mr Lightbourn added. “You go down to Arawak Cay, Potters Cay, Conch salad all the time. But the day you can’t afford conch salad is when you’re going to start screaming. But let’s deal with it now.

“But we’re just sitting here just allowing the corruption. The failure to enforce laws is going to destroy everything that ever meant anything in this country.”

Comments

Alex_Charles 2 years, 8 months ago

because they don't care and the Bahamian people don't care either. Nothing will change so prepare for more years of carnival, downgrades and Christmas decorations

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juju 2 years, 8 months ago

Bahamians care, however they feel helpless. Voting gives them power to make a change. This is the only way out of this mess, unless, of course, the PLP rig the election.🙃

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 8 months ago

Sadly, whether you vote for the PLP, FNM or DNA candidate really makes no difference. Hopefully you have a reputable independent candidate running in your constituency whom you are comfortable voting for.

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truetruebahamian 2 years, 8 months ago

Shame! Answer the bloody questions otherwise they will be prised from these mongrels when we stretch them on the rack!

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Cobalt 2 years, 8 months ago

Listen to me Bahamians............

Perry Christie and the PLP doesnt have any answers for yall!! They are all clueless, hapless, incompetent, idiots! That much is obvious.

The only motive that he and other PLP's have for wanting to maintain power is to align their pockets! But the most frustrating thing is......... these JACKASS Bahamians continue voting for them!! How stupid can yall actually be Bahamas???

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Economist 2 years, 8 months ago

When you don't give answers it is clear that you have much to hide.

What you suspect is true or they would answer the question.

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Socrates 2 years, 8 months ago

the westminister system of gov't presupposes certain qualities and individual characteristics including honour and integrity ... enough said *.

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Economist 2 years, 8 months ago

You speak of "Honourable" persons. Guess not all deserve the title.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 8 months ago

The rules of Parliament are abused ............ because we have a Speaker who is a jelly-backed coward who does not stand up and enforce the rules in favour of the Opposition ........ they have had NO Opposition Days since 2012 .......... and the PAC is muzzled by non-compliance.

That is why the Government/Cabinet feel that they do not have to answer any questions ...... That is why the next FNM Government MUST appoint an impartial Royal Commission of Inquiry to find out where the last 5 National Budgets, $2 Billion national debt and $1 Billion VAT have gone ...... We sure do not see it reflected in our overall NATIONAL social, infrastructural and economic development ....... But we hear about politicians who have many overseas bank accounts, new investments and it is not accounted for because they have not submitted their mandatory annual financial declarations .................. They must be brought to JUSTICE!!!!!!!

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licks2 2 years, 8 months ago

So.. . .then is it no longer the fault of the Opp. leader in the HOA if there can't not proper accounting on the part of the government? I though it was this very man who said that he reason they got very little work done was because doc was lousy as leader? Now that he has the big gun in his hands he is complaining that the government them "een stayin still" for him to get things done. . .Lol!

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